Jon: Hey everybody this is Jon, your host, for the Executive Interview Series. The fancy name for basically experts and on line gurus to help us decipher the internet and much much more.
Today get ready for Mr. Gab Goldenberg, Gabriel Goldenberg. We’ve been fortunate enough to get him on the horn here and we have some exciting insights. Boy he is certainly extremely knowledgeable about the SEO space.
But perhaps even more importantly the business space, understanding how to convert your traffic to more money in the bank essentially. So without further ado let’s welcome Gab here.
Hello Gab, how are you today?
Gab: I’m good. How are you Jon?
Listen to the Executive Interview Series with SEOROI Founder Gab Goldenberg (Audio recording). Transcript is included in this post.
Jon: I’m great, so excited to have you here. It’s just hard to track you down, you’re so busy running around and servicing clients. I wanted to ask you a little bit about your background. How it came to be? How you came to be so well, frankly, highly liked and such a super knowledgeable expert about SEO and all also CRO. That’s an acronym for conversion rate optimization. Can you tell us, give us a little bit on that?
Gab: Thank you, that’s really sweet of you. I don’t know if I think as highly of myself as you do, but thank you!
One thing I just tell everybody in the industry, it’s that it’s really about networking the same way that you and I are doing now. You build relationships with other people right now obviously making a big investment in our relationship and similarly blogging and sharing other peoples posts and articles and so on, linking to them. Taking the time to buy them a beer at a trade show or at a networking event. Organizing locale events in your city and that’s really the name of the game, because regardless of your business, people do business with people they like, people buy from people they like, and the more people like you, the more people will buy.
Jon: Yes, that’s a good tip. We sometimes forget it’s about people at the end of the day. About SEO, I think you have a background in the legal area and then you sort of dove into the SEO area and became an expert. How did that happen?
Gab: Yes it’s funny. I had a politics blog when I was eighteen. I wanted to influence other Canadians and I wrote about how to promote websites and of course politics and law are quite related. And so I just went from one to the other. I had some success with that. For example I interviewed the then candidate for the Canadians Green Party leadership I was at the nation’s capital and then interviewed different people from the liberals and conservatives. And then just from there I thought I needed job something that benefits other people and been doing that for, I think, over six years now. That’s sort of were that started and then the whole idea with the CRO, the conversion rate side of it is because, at least when I started, in the past few years maybe that’s changing, but when I started everybody was all about I want to be number one rated, top proposition, you saw that in a lot of peoples company names. Be position one this, top ranking super website that. Not that you don’t want to, obviously that’s really important, but I felt the conversion side of it was being neglected so that’s why I call my company SEOROI to show that the point was to balance it. We wanted to get the SEO traffic but not just any traffic; we wanted to make it convert for you. Been doing that ever since. I’ll admit that when I started out, as with I think many people, I knew a less about it that I professed and the big eye opener for me I think was at *** West were I got to meet Sandra Niehaus. She was a conversion marketing *** and she was kind enough to give me a copy of her book, web design for ROI. That was just like the definite best guide practice to web design that converts. From there, I just started reading more. I got, I think, all of the Eisenberg books, Call to action ***, Always be testing, *** book….. You know, just consistently reading, learning, informing myself, and running on line experiments that sort of thing.
(Editor: Sorry, some words dropped out, we added *** in those places.)
That’s the main thing, if your consistently learning then you’ll keep providing a great experience for your visitors and to your clients.
Jon: That’s great. I never knew quite all the details of that, but it was interesting that you mentioned, Gab, that it’s probably true what Seth Godin says, “all marketers are liars”. You know, it sort of initially, depending on where you’re at, there’s a personal involvement but there’s a business strategy around it and it’s like with anything in life I would say, if you say, yeah I’m okay. Well, if your okay then we won’t be talking to you, but if you stand forward, stand up straight and hey man not only am I okay but I am excellent at this stuff and let me show you some things that will blow your socks off. It creates excitement and interest and all of the things that we know are so important to generate results. But like you did, you stuck with it and you committed to it so it was a way for you to rise up the ranks quickly and I’ve seen you speak and you’re very knowledgeable. It’s still not that many years in the industry but you blew me away so that awesome.
Gab: thank you that’s really kind. I think that you in your own right have done probably much a better job than I have in terms of the networking. I’ve seen you including other peoples links and to me that’s like exactly the practicing way of preaching. Were your building relationships with people by always sharing good stuff. So I suspect that your praising me but in the background there’s this guy called Jon Rognerud!
Jon: Yeah, we certainly like this game, you and I, it’s great to service great clients. Still, though, it’s tough because there are a lot of changes in the search engines as we both know. You mentioned briefly that you focus on conversion rate optimization but of course over all SEO and that includes traffic in there sort of the trifecta to success on line as I say, you got to have traffic. Quality traffic more than just any traffic. You got to have a message, an offer, something that speaks to that mindset on a particular page and then of course you have got to just continue to improve as the third step, the conversion. So you can say not just add more traffic but you can work on the back end and really improve.
How do you stay ahead of these changes in search engines? What I just said is some basic things, yet profound, yet often missed. How do you stay ahead of changes and provide consistent results for clients? What’s sort of your 1, 2, 3 things that you look at there?
Gab: I think that trend watching is both fun, rewarding and very valuable. If you see the direction that things are changing, and that doesn’t mean that you have to be a prophet, it just means that you look at what’s happened in the past six months, one year, two years and you put two and two together and you say; okay Google has been taking increasing more steps through search investment on SEO for example, and you ask yourself, so what does that mean for me and how do I adapt? I’ve been blogging more about that recently, I’ve got another couple more posts prepared for either my blog or Michael Gray’s blog (Wolf-Howl) hoping he will allow me to guest posts. The point is I wrote another recent article, ecommerce SEO at least and probably soon lead-gen SEO as well. It’s just decreasingly for profit. Meaning that price comparison is constantly growing and you hit on an excellent point, which you have to have an amazing offer. That’s specifically something that people aren’t testing enough. People are testing action buttons, people are testing headlines and those are all really good things, but that’s testing lip stick on the pig, but the question is do your pig big fat and tempting and do people want to eat it?
That was a great comment that you made. So if you put different color lip stick it might get you a few more pig sales but the question is what are you doing to make a better pig? Not just that, not just how are you working on your core offer to convert better but how are you monetizing on the back end which you need alluded to and that’s I think is the biggest trend and tip that I can give to SEO’s now is you have to stop thinking of just monetizing directly off search. You need to monetize on the life time value and that means email. Twitter is great, Facebook is great but ultimately if you are building those channels you are essentially depending on somebody else for your traffic, your depending on Facebooks good will to include you in on their timeline and, you could point this out recently, but basically about 80% of your posts are no longer showing up on your fans time line, so it’s Facebook saying okay you picked up a fan but now pay us once again to have your messages show up to them. There’s essentially no end to that, they can say, they can keep optimizing that and say pay for your ads not just to appear, your page posts to appear on their time line but pay for them to appear with a link, and so and so forth. Or pay for your fans to see an exit ad when they click it.
So that’s why I think email remains number one thing that people need to be converting toward. Newsletters are huge, I emphasize that a lot. As well as just filling in the offer, bundling things, cutting your prices, at least on the initial product at the bare minimum using web and tradition off line retail offers, are they making 0% margin and you can report to a negative margin. Especially for the purpose of maximizing your conversion rate, because that’s what you’re trying to do, you’re trying to find your customers. Over time you can generate the profit, but if you’re selling the latest canon rebel digital camera and you’re charging $500 and the next guy is charging $479, it’s just a click away, why would somebody bother to pay an extra $20 when for a few minutes work, they can save that extra $20 and put it in their pocket. So I think those are the biggest steps and with regards to continue to learn and stay ahead like we’re doing now I think it’s a big deal.
I recently was very fortunate that people at conversion conference set me up with an interview with Philip Klein who is the co-founder of an excellent tool called BT Buckets. Which that stands for behavioral targeting buckets. What that means for your listeners is you can classify, you can sort of tag a visitor to your website according to a particular thing they did when they arrive at your website, for example they came from a search, they came from a blog, versus banner display, ads, you can customize it accordingly. For example, they have a case study which I posted for download on that interview where people who either came with the Brazil search keyword or selected it from a dropdown not just for that individual visit but for all subsequent visits as well, they showed them a tall graphic that said hello in Brazilian Portuguese and also the Brazilian flag, the Brazilian colors that resulted in I think in 180% increased conversion rate for that long distant calling card company. So in that way, if you think about it, you need to provide an optimal experience which is great, but with your home page you typically targeting a lot of different key words and also some key words which just aren’t differentiated. So if you rank for calling cards and somebody wants to call Brazil, they type calling cards, but if you provide them with that customized experience not just when they initially come but also when they bookmark you and when they return then you’re going to do a much better job. This is something that I never thought about, but I found out from interviewing Philip and I find that that is consistently one of the best ways to learn, networking.
Jon: Oh, that was solid. A lot of stuff in there, we’re going to have to digest that. That was like a huge course right in itself. The key is you said it brilliantly really, the idea that when somebody searches and has a specific intent that the offer is strong but that it directed to the person and speaks to them and also that you can improve your conversions by using that. But it’s not a sort of give me your money like the commercial side up front, you might have to even go negative as you said. That’s interesting the LTV, long term value or the life time value is so key. I touch on this with a lot of clients and I don’t know if you see the same, but often they get it in theory, like yeah that sounds great, but then executing that getting those other executives and teams on board with it can be a challenge. What do you mean, you’re going to lower our prices? And even go negative? Are you crazy? So it’s very interesting but that’s awesome.
In fact my question, Gab, a lot of the readers and listeners here are small business owners and some of them not as tech savvy and knowledgeable as the two people on this call, but what are some of the things that a new site and a small business owner, whether it’s a on line or perhaps more a brick and mortar sort of local search flavors, what are some of the things they should be looking at to get a fast start in the search engines and that could even include some of the blogs and resources that you might recommend sort of a quick tip sheet to starting out and kind of kick in the butt in the search engines?
Gab: Create something simple put it out there and test your results. Don’t tell yourself that I’m going to launch with 500 products or 1,000 products and then you’ve blown all your budget on building a website and you don’t have any budget for marketing it. Create something small and integrate it from there. I’m saying that from first time experience where I myself wanted to create this massive ecommerce website and the project just so bogged down that it unfortunately didn’t go anywhere. You make mistakes and that’s how you learn. Hopefully you learn from your mistakes and you can share them with others and hopefully they learn too.
Jon: That’s excellent, great advice. In fact I deal with entrepreneurs, individuals, not just companies and entrepreneurs are great at idea generation and often cannot follow through and that follow through, I think will be enhanced by, you know what? – Let’s make this simple. It may not be all that you want in phase one, which is totally fine, but you need to sort of make an agreement with yourself that you’re going to do that and I think your idea about the money and the budgeting and not allowing that to take over, you’ll have many sleepless nights.
By the way, is there any specific blogs or resources that you might recommend somebody look at? Or that might be useful is this beginner stage?
Gab: There are so many blogs. For a beginner, that’s a good question, I think SEOMoz has a consistently maintained good mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced posts. They tend to just make it real accessible and friendly. In contrast to many other sites, they make good signal to noise ratio. Other sites; I think Michael Gray especially in the past few months I noticed that he increasingly is adding more just sort of general business articles and I think that will help people ease into more this technical marketing stuff because he’s really got some cutting edge things there. The fact that he can mix it up with say here’s a service, for example, to mail in your receipts and they will scan them and classify and organize and have them all on line, it’s real easy and you don’t have to worry finding your receipts ever again. So that sort of general business advice that everybody can understand mixing it in with the technical SEO stuff can maybe be a welcome landing pad for beginners. And of course my friend Ann, (Ann Smarty), SEOsmarty.com, has also a great blog that I think is geared toward intermediate but beginners can also understand it which is really nice.
Jon: Oh yeah, Ann Smarty, that’s a good one. I haven’t seen her, been following her lately so I have to get back on that. We’re going to get to an exciting topic, your book, here in a second but I just wanted to just intermediately get into social media for a second. SEO is content and links, social media is actually content and it all ties together, their connected. It’s funny I have conversations with executives who will ask me, You guys do SEO, but do you do social media? Why are they different? Why should I leverage social media for search. People are familiar with twitter, Facebook, YouTube,Linkedin and of course there’s google+ now, there’s many vertical social media directories and platforms and things, of course we have this hot new Pinterest — pinning your interesting on these boards and things. What would you say, as sort of a summary to folks out there doing SEO and leveraging social media? How should they best use it? I know it’s a big topic, you could spend a day on that, but what feedback might you have?
Gab: Again, I’d say that’s a question of acquisition, so how can you make content to acquire customers either by selling immediately or by gaining their name and email? So one thing that I saw at Pubcon was a great conference by the way, is from the guy at IONinteractive, their chief marketing technology officer had a presentation on a new kind of landing page and it’s basically an article with an embedded lead gen form but it’s not your typical lead gen form with SEOs basically name and email, join our newsletter. It’s got more tips on how to optimize your landing page, for example with the presumption that that landing page, article was about 10 tips to optimize landing pages, so essentially feeding people more content in that way and turning every blog post into an avenue. Not just with your newsletter being in the sidebar, which is sort of the old more classic way of doing it, but fitting it in right in were you see all the ads by publishers, but putting the 300×250 box – putting it right there, right along with the introduction. It’s a super prominent place if you’ve got a great article, then people will fill it in, so that is a really nice one.
Jon: Of yeah, that excellent. That’s the traditional, and I’m sure you see it as well; I should get on pinterest, shouldn’t I? It seems like it lacks a strategy, it’s more of the shiny object thing that’s a draw, rather than a good solid business strategy and plan.
Gab: That’s right. The question is what is it going to do for your business? What’s the bottom line? Generate other newsletters for sales? And if not, what’s the secondary value that you can get off those links or followers, on Twitter and Facebook that will eventually turn into links, emails or sales.
One other thing that I seem to have noticed as a trend, with social media, is that people and companies doing ecommerce are using it to acquire customers ***on the one hand because its kind of more relevant on the other hand you got to have a good offer, again coming back to that, that increases the percentage of people that will buy of course. I think that is really the cutting the strategy but you have to use in moderation otherwise people only buy ***let’s say once a season if you’re a building retailer for example or let’s say when you liquidate your *** That’s a good method.
Jon: That’s awesome, Gab. I know that you have spoken at conferences like SMX Advanced, Affiliate summit East, Popcon, as you mentioned; What have seen and what do you still see, you mentioned sort of trend watching and all, so maybe this is somewhat a complimentary to that but there’s different marketers essentially and people that come to these conferences and I know I just mentioned three that are, there are crossover of content and topics in all and Affiliate Summit East is perhaps different than SMX Advanced, Pubcon is the old sort of the pub crawler that I think it started in the UK; what do you see as some of the common threads perhaps, issues, concerns; marketers on one side and then you have the executives and leadership on the other side, are they fairly distinct or are they separate or what are they looking for? What’s the sort of many common or even different thread there? I know perhaps that’s a large question, but just looking for a couple of nuggets that you see?
Gab: Can you narrow that down? I’m not sure I understand. What are the marketing executives looking for or …?
Jon: Well basically this, if a vice president of marketing goes to an SMX Advanced what are some of his concerns and issues verses say a more a SEO traditional, sort of a tech, and copy writing SEO person, they obviously have different needs, but in looking at all of these conferences I’m sure there’s some common threads or some common issues that they all face; what are those? Is it the latest trick or tip in the industry is it how can I get more traffic or are you getting the drift of my question?
Gab: Yes, I think so. What are looking for when attending the trade shows? I would like to say that I remember more conversations with VPs but as it turns out I think most of the networking end of it at trade shows was with other consultants. So just say the two people that I remember talking to about this sort of thing; one was my former boss who now runs beyondtherack.com sort of a social, an exclusive buying club he, similar to the *** here in the United States, he and my college Henry *** attended a conference and their main purpose was to go through the expo hall and meet different pay per click vendors and companies and see who could do a good job managing ***events. Then the other person I remember is the head of arts.com or similar niche retailer, he was really looking for, as I recall, for technical advice. So I guess it’s a mix. People who are buying conference expo passes only are there obviously to meet vendors and network with them and eventually hire someone. People who are there for the sessions, I think very clearly are indicating they want to learn.
Jon: That’s excellent. In fact, speaking about learning, your new awesome book, “Advanced SEOs’ 7 Curiously Obvious Rules & 20 Singular Tactics That Illustrate Them”, is available. Can you tell us a bit about how and why that book came to be? Who’s it for? Perhaps, as we have you on this call, if you can share one awesome rule and one awesome tactic that can allow us to get some insight. Just real quick on that.
Gab: How it came to be, is I saw that my most popular blog posts were where I came up with a new tactic and I shared it with people. So I thought a book about that would be pretty good. And I also noticed persons were getting tired of refine models because I like to be creative but I like to create quickly. I don’t like to be questioned very much, it’s a weakness of mine, because I guess I’m pretty self confident and I a lot of to educate myself and understandably clients have a whole business to run and they had to deal with logistics and shipping and personnel, etc., but I just found that increasing frustrating so I wanted to shift away from client work and that was sort of my back ground to coming up with it. It’s oriented towards intermediate to advanced SEO, people who already bought a SEO book. I think you had a SEO book of your own? Is that possible?
Jon: Yes, I have two books out.
Gab: Exactly, who have read your books. So people who already have a background on the tip of the ice and they are looking for something more. They’re not looking the general rules and how you do SEO, they’re looking for a system. Not a system for building links, not a system for doing keyword research, they’re looking for a system how to solve any problems that deal with SEO.
I come up with the problem, I diagnosis what it is, I research were people have already addressed this, either in public say on blogs or in private as we’re doing with networking. I then figure out, what is the best option, how do I optimize this and I look at expected value. Expected value is actually my idea that you’ll see in *** twitter, in googles ad auction and in a number of other places where people are optimizing and the idea for every 1,000 times, every 1,000,000 times that I repeat that I come across the exact same decision, will the investment that I’m going to make is my return investment positive or negative? So every time you need to call your opponents bet, are you going to make more money from winning the pot or not? Let’s say you only have 10% chance at winning the pot, but it only takes you a dollar to call and the pot is $1,000. If you repeat that ten times and say that at least one time you’re going to win $1,000 it only cost you ten bucks to win. Obviously you would do that even though you have really low odds of winning the pot. The same thing really applies when *** should I invest in directories? Let me ask you this; what is the expected value of directories? If you keep bumping those links 1,000 times are you going to show up higher on average, is it going to last for the money? Or should you invest that money in say, interviewing ten or 15 bloggers in your field and building relationships with them?
Jon: I see, that’s very interesting. That’s a very practical way of viewing it. Very direct.
Gab: Yes, it is. So that’s one rule. Then tactics, I kind of mentioned this earlier, with a client, what I’m suggesting message matching in that essentially you do the message match regardless if the person came from a particular keyword, or if they came to your homepage with the key word Brazil calling cards, with idea of using behavioral targeting each time to keep showing them that stuff. One thing I’ve shared in the book is for people with sliders or slide shows, which are increasingly popular, as the home page design element and the thing is, if you have something that is buried on slide 15, which is increasingly common, or even let’s say if on slide five or six people aren’t seeing right away typically because of the poor usability of sliders typically were people only preview what’s to come wether it’s only a little dot or arrows that say next, then if they came for something that’s on slide five and you don’t tell them what’s there, they’re going to bounce. It’s pretty straight forward. I came for Brazilian calling cards and all I saw on your home page was “void” systems, because that’s what’s on slider number one, I’m out of here. So the tactic is use what’s called a referrer check and there’s PHP script you can google to do that. So you do a referrer check for the key word and you see does it match any of the key words that are associated with my different slides. If it does, you automatically fast forward to the appropriate slide. So the guy who googled Brazilian calling cards, instead of going to the point page he goes to the Brazil calling card slider right away. Even though they’re all on the home page.
Jon: That’s absolutely great. As you were talking, I was thinking how would it be if you were to walk into a show store or something and instead of the guy or the gal coming up to you and say, Hey Gab how can I help you? You just walk in there and they say, Hey Gab, your black leather shoes are over here. It’s like oh my gosh, how do you know what I’m looking for. Well, you know what, we’re smart people over here.
Gab: Exactly. Or let’s say you look at some shoes early in the day, but you weren’t sure about pricing so you’re in a mall and set out to compare some other shoe store prices and you come back, so that salesman may have seen 30 other people during the day. He doesn’t necessarily remember you, but if you got a smart salesman he remembers you, “oh, we still have that last pair of size 9 black leather shoes if you want it”. So that’s the same way amazon remembers you and shows you the products that you’ve recently viewed. That’s just what you’re saying, it’s a very successful tactic – amazon.com are the experts at target marketing.
Jon: I know, that’s great. I’m testing, Gab, just as a side note or compliment note a lot of this targeting through scripts and things myself, but also off-line with mailers and stuff and it’s pretty interesting, this off line game is very cool.
Gab: I’d really like to talk to you more about that and maybe I could have a guest post from you.
Jon: I have tons of information on that. I’ve been for the last year diving in heavily and launched some small campaigns, I’m scaling up. I have an event, myself, coming up later this fall that I’ll share more about that, but I’m very excited about that three day event.
Gab: Absolutely, that sounds wonderful. It’s getting towards dinner time and I’m getting concerned that my wife is waiting for me.
Jon: Actually Gab, there’s just one question; How can we get more information from you and how can we get your book and all that good stuff? This has just been great.
Gab: People can get a free chapter of the book, they just need to give us a name and email address.
GET GAB’S SEO BOOK HERE:
That’s the main thing and if you have your own email list then perhaps we can work out a coupon code for Jon Rognerud’s friends.
Jon: Yeah, I do have a list also, that’s a great point, they would love it. This has been one awesome interview. So much insight and I’m going to have to decipher it. I get a lot of these concepts, but some of the readers, it’s going to be, well that’s why we have you on here; the advanced masters, because frankly they need a push in the butt and if you’re listening everybody this is the one to take notes and follow up with. Gab, you’ve been just extraordinary to help us out and share your insights today. I’m going to click the stop button here and we’re going to get off line but thanks again Gab. Any final words or comments?
Gag: Thank you, Jon. Thank you so much, you’ve been great. Anyone who’s listening, I hope you’ll get a free chapter and check out Jon’s books (The Ultimate Guide To Search Engine Optimization) and site, and let’s be in touch. Let’s build a relationship! Thank you.